Hanoi is home to plenty of street vendors, mostly women, who walk around the narrow streets of the city with either a shoulder pole attached to two baskets, a bicycle, a trolley or some other type of pushing machine. They sell fruit and vegetables and other food products, flowers, costumes, plastic toys, you name it. I went to the Women's Museum where, upstairs, they had an interesting exhibition about them with lots of photos along with real case accounts from the women themselves describing all aspects of their lives and job. As you'd expect, they don't earn much in the way of money and what they do earn, goes back to support their families in villages and they live in pretty horrid conditions. So spare a thought for them, the next time you see one on the streets.
A Midnight Stroll on Old Quarter-VT meet Part 2
The minutes ticked by and finally there he was - Kent Nguyen, my VT friend. He looked quite different from his passport pics, but when he spoke, it was clear that he was just like his e-mails- helpful and warm in a quiet way.
We hopped into a taxi and I asked him to suggest a place where we could have a drink. It seems that in Hanoi, pubs & bars have to close by midnight and it was too late to go to the famous street where most of the pubs were, so instead, Kent brought us to a new joint that was still open, defying somehow the 12 midnight closing rules: the 17 Saloon (see my Nightlife tips).
After a couple of drinks and some casual conversation, Kent suggested that we may wish to take a walk around the Old Quarter. It was a very pleasant night to be out, the temperature cool, but not cold, and golden street lamps glowed in the mists, creating a halo around the trees and old French architecture giving everything a romantic tinge. We walked through the hushed shopping streets which were of course closed at that time of the night, and pass the food street where small groups of customers continued to enjoy noodles and drink Ca Phe (pronounced car fay) and beer right on the foot paths .
All too soon, it was time to say good night and good bye to a new friend, Kent. If any of you would like to know more about where to go or what to see in Hanoi or Vietnam, please do not hesitate to contact Kent. You can write him an e-mail via VT or write to me to have his contact handphone.
Wishing you all the best, Kent!
I wish I had taken some photos of the Old Quarter at midnight, but somehow, the mood was so lovely that I didn't even think of it. But anyway, here's a picture of the bartender that juggles at 17 Saloon.
you will find these colourful Lanterns everywhere in the Old Quarter...they are made of a light material. I thought they were paper ..I was wrong :) these would make a nice ornament in any room at home....they woudl look good in a childs room I think They are cheap
Reunification Express - overnight, Hanoi to Hue
Our overnight trip on the Reunification Express in May 2007, 12 hours long, was a huge disappointment which caused us to cancel plans for further train travel in Vietnam. Cost was $30/ea for two soft sleeper berth tickets. Train departed and arrived on schedule, the only positive aspect of the trip.
The train was filthy, the mattresses and pillows were stained. The whole car stunk. This was a soft berth sleeper car. There were two toilets on our car, one at each end, and both stunk to high heaven. Not one person in our entire car, about six four berth cabins, had a happy face. The one bed that was empty in our cabin was used by the conductors or some uninvited guests who kept rotating positions throughout the night, coming in and napping for an hour and then being replaced by someone else. Having cabin mates is acceptable and expected. Having the door open hourly and a new face enter and lie down in the bed next to you is not what's expected. There was no mention of soft sleeper berths available by the hour in any reviews we had read.
We never expected 5 star service. We did expect something fairly clean with non smelly/stained pillows and mattresses. We expected something on a standard with Vietnam Airlines or Sinhcafe tour buses or Mekong Express buses (which of the three I rode were always half full of locals). We also expected a toilet which did not make you gag to enter. The Reunification Express is touted to be Vietnam's pride and joy, railwise. Every review we had read on this or any other forums/travel sites and travel guides had nothing bad to say about the trains other than the food. The Lonely Planet Travel Guide, paperback form, states that the trains have been upgraded and dining cars added to many routes. This was not what we experienced.
The low standards of the Reunification Express were a big disappoinment. There were many Europeans, including Germans, Swedes and Italians in our car. Many were backpacker types. None were pleased with this train. We would not recommend this travel to anyone.
Bun Cha is the name of a local dish here in Vietnam. It consist of noodles, grilled pork, grilled bacon and unlimited fresh vegetables. It was really yummy and I think the best I've had in Hanoi. My meal cost 45,000 dong but I've heard that the locals only pay around 30,000 dong. Bun Cha